Lawmakers Still Trying To Make It Difficult For Service People To Recover Damages
Despite new laws that have revived claims for those sickened, poisoned or injured by contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, and despite the government’s now well-known history of denials of contaminated water claims, it seems that some lawmakers still want to deprive injured victims of their day in court.
The new law passed this year, called the PACt Act, allows any service people, contractors or employees stationed or who worked at Camp Lejeune from 1953-1987, so long as they were there for 30 days, to obtain damages for a myriad of diseases, illnesses, sicknesses, and birth defects they sustained because of water that was contaminated at Camp Lejeune during that time.
Because the law had said that these claims were too old to be brought, many service people and employees at the camp were left with lives devastated, but with no form or compensation or financial assistance. The new law changed all that, allowing servicepeople to recover compensation for these kinds of illnesses.
Trying to Gut the Law
But many are apparently upset that service people and employees are actually taking advantage of the help and aid that the law is giving them.
Some United States Senators had proposed an amendment to a budget bill this year, proposing to cap attorneys fees in Camp Lejeune damage and injury cases to between 2% -10% of the total value of any case or claim brought by victims. Normally, attorneys fees cap at around 25%-30%.
Before you say that capping attorneys fees is a good thing, Camp Lejeune cases are taken on contingency; Camp Lejeune lawyers work without pay up front, get nothing if the case loses, and front all costs involved with the lawsuit (such as travel, experts, or litigation costs).
Capping attorneys fees at the proposed rate, would have made it very difficult for lawyers to even afford to take a Camp Lejeune case, and would have limited the legal help available to veterans. It is a way of weakening the effect of the law, without altering the actual text of the law.
Capped attorneys fees mean fewer attorneys that are available to help veterans take advantage of the benefits the law provides, and it potentially also means less qualified attorneys handling Camp Lejeune cases.
Service Members Don’t Like the Caps
Many service members are speaking out against the proposed attorneys fee maximum amendment, saying that they would not have been able to secure the legal help they needed, if those caps were in effect.
One woman’s mother worked at Camp Lejeune during the time in question. The mother lost two babies, and then died herself, of multiple forms of leukemia, all because of exposure to toxins in the water at the camp. In a report, she noted how difficult it would have been to find a capable attorney, had attorneys fee caps been in effect.
Call the Tennessee Camp Lejeune Justice Act lawyers at Fox Farley Willis & Burnette, PLLC, today to see how we can help you, if you have been poisoned, sickened, or had any disease, that may have been caused by toxic exposure while working or stationed in or at Camp Lejeune.